Obama Not Upping His Involvement In Health Care Debate
President Obama is not planning to increase (or, for that matter, decrease) his involvement in the health care debate even as legislation enters a pivotal moment in the United States Senate.
Just days after the Senate passed a historic measure, allowing health care reform to come to the floor for amending and debate, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs essentially stuck to the maxim, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," when describing the administration's upcoming approach.
"I think the president will continue to play the role that he and his team have played [so far]," Gibbs said. "I don't think we would be at this point if the president and his team hadn't played roles in getting this process to the point of where it is."
"I can assure you, the president will continue to talk to legislatures about the importance of getting this done," Gibbs added.
Gibbs did not provide more details beyond stressing that it remained the president's goal to sign a bill into law before the end of the year. And he did not address -- nor was he asked about -- the obvious legislative obstacles that stand in the way. Four moderate Democrats in the Senate have said they would join a Republican filibuster of a bill that includes a public option for insurance coverage -- a provision that the president supports. A handful of progressive lawmakers, meanwhile, have hinted that they would walk away from any legislation that doesn't include a public plan.
Gibbs was asked during the briefing about the horse-trading taking place behind the scenes to secure some of these conservative Democratic votes -- including $100 million in federal Medicaid subsidies to Louisiana for that state's Senator Mary Landrieu. In his reply, he basically took a pass.
"I have not talked to [Obama] about that," said Gibbs. "I think that is a better question for members on Capitol Hill... We are happy that progress was made... again I think that question is better directed to the Senate."